Saturday, January 13, 2007

Congress Finally Trying To Rein in an Out-of-Control Bush

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Here is a Boston Globe piece on Jack Murtha's plan for legislation to shut down Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib:

House Democratic leaders yesterday outlined plans to try to force the Bush administration to close the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, taking aim at two sites that have sparked an international furor over the Bush administration's war policy.

Representative John P. Murtha, the chairman of the powerful Defense Appropriations subcommittee and a close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said he wants to close both prisons by cutting their funding, "to restore our credibility worldwide." If he succeeds, it would force the administration to find a new location for high-value terrorism suspects.

"We have the role, as elected officials, to exert our influence through the power of the purse -- that's what it's all about," said Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat whose committee will hold hearings on Iraq next week. "We try not to micromanage the Defense Department, but I tell you, they need micromanagement. They're out of control."

The effort to close the prisons, which Murtha said Pelosi supports, illustrates how congressional Democrats are confronting the president over his war policies. The aggressive push to change the war's course has intensified after the president's address Wednesday night in which he announced plans to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq.

Democratic leaders will try to include the measure to close the prisons in a spending bill designed to pay for war operations, Murtha said. He acknowledged that closing Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo would be more symbolic than substantive. Abu Ghraib gained international infamy in 2004 after pictures emerged of US soldiers torturing and sexually abusing Iraqi prisoners there. The Guantanamo facility, which has housed Al Qaeda members and other terror suspects for more than five years, has emerged as a lightning rod for criticism of US policies in combating terrorism.

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